Way back in 2012 I received an email asking if I’d like to partner with Sseko, a socially responsible brand that employs woman in Uganda and teaches them the skills to make beautiful leather sandals and handbags (and so much more now!) which, in turn, gives them opportunities to go to college and better their lives and the lives of their families. Sseko was simply looking for some brand awareness at the time, since they were a new company, and wanted me to wear and feature their sandals in outfit posts on my blog. I was so inspired by this brand that used fashion to create opportunity & community for women globally that without hesitation, I agreed. It was literally, the least I could do to help, but felt like I was helping, nonetheless.
They sent me the sandals and I loved them. They reminded me of a bright plastic pair I had in the ’80s with wide interchangeable shoelaces, but these sandals by Sseko were far superior, more comfortable and super cute… and not only did I wear them in a few outfit posts, I even created a super simple DIY gladiator sandal out of them with thin, long leather laces.
In 2014 they reached out again with their new T-strap design and of course I agreed to help spread awareness by wearing and sharing and have worn their sandals in outfit posts as well as in real life every summer since.
Most recently, the founder of Sseko, Liz Bohannon reached out asked if I’d like to read her new book called Beginner’s Pluck, wherein she shares her story of starting and growing a socially conscious, multi-million dollar fashion brand, Sseko Designs, creating thousands of fair wage jobs for artisans across the world and enabling hundreds of the smartest women in Uganda to continue onto college and become leaders in their communities and our world… and of course, I agreed, without hesitation.
I was also given the opportunity to co-design one of a handful of beautiful leather items and I chose this cute little mini tote bag to go with the book.
When the book arrived, I was super excited and dove right in. I started and finished in 3 days, which while I do actually read quite often, I NEVER finish a book in 3 days. This is to say that… I LOVED it.
In fact, I can’t even express how much I loved it. It’s basically Liz’s story about building Sseko Designs from literally nothing after moving to Uganda and becoming passionate about creating opportunities for women, woven in between a personal growth and business development and entrepreneurship book, with tons of advice and takeaways throughout… which happens to be, my favorite kind of book to read. It’s inspiring, well-written and you can hear Liz’s excitement and passion come through her words. I couldn’t put it down.
Although I had like a billion A-HA moments while reading Beginner’s Pluck and kept a pen handy to underline and fingers ready to fold little corners (because I’m all about interacting with my books for future quick-referencing), there were a few things that really stuck with me.
At the beginning of the book, Liz sort of outlines it by listing her “14 Principals of Beginner’s Pluck”. I’d list them all here, but I don’t want to give them away. But by far, my favorite was “Stop Trying to FIND Your Passion”.
While I am someone who doesn’t really have an issue with knowing what I am passionate about… I know it’s definitely an idea that many people really struggle with often, especially now that it’s constantly shoved down our throats as a “key ingredient” to living an awesome life, according to many self-help and personal development books. And I agree. It is a key ingredient, but it also doesn’t mean you’re completely unhappy and unsuccessful if you happen to not be able to figure out just what you are passionate about.
What I love about this principal and chapter is that Liz gives “FINDING YOUR PASSION” an entirely new perspective…
“What if… instead of asking what we are passionate about, we simply asked What am I interested in? The freedom to explore what you’re simply interested in might create a space that allows you to just keep exploring…”
Passion isn’t a pre-existing condition… A life of purpose and passion can’t be “found”… It is the result of being brave, curious, and dare I say, plucky?
“When you set out to FIND something, it requires that you know what you’re looking for. When we believe in the notion that we will eventually FIND our purpose and passion, we bide our time, living only half alive and gripped by fear. We look to others who have already FOUND IT, and we get jealous, overwhelmed, and confused when we try to run someones else’s race because we want to end up where they are… We cling to this narrative of FINDING because it is self-soothing and gives us permission to be passive, and we fall asleep to the world and to the work that is right in front of us.”
You do not FIND your passion and purpose. You BUILD it.
I never thought about passion in this way, but it’s so true. I never once thought to myself HMMM… What am I PASSIONATE about? I thought about what I liked to do… I thought about the things I found myself happiest spending time doing. And I went from there. I never thought about “passion” until well AFTER I created something that felt like it gave me purpose, like blogging, for example.
Another personal example is the bar/restaurant I co-own, Dogwood Tavern. I never had a PASSION for opening a bar. NOT EVER. It wasn’t a lifelong dream, in fact the thought never even crossed my mind until I moved up to Lake Arrowhead and realized it was severely lacking in nightlife options… I then realized I had a PASSION for helping make this mountain town a little more interesting and opening a bar was the first step I took to move toward that goal. Does that make sense? Owning a bar is hard, one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, and sometimes I want to literally walk away from it… and then I have to remember why I did it in the first place. My original goal was to create a place for the people of the community to meet and gather and have fun, along with creating a nightlife option that this town really lacked. I built it (with two partners, who had the same passion) just like I built my blog over the years, taking all my skills at the time and sharing in this space. I wasn’t a passionate blogger when I started, I barely knew what I was doing, but I built it over time.
Here’ my review, condensed…
Beginner’s Pluck has 14 principals that may just change your perspective or inspire you to think a little more creatively about your own life, your dreams and goals, and business and entrepreneurship as well. I loved how Liz was able to weave her own story about building Sseko Designs from literally nothing which made it so much more personal and enchanting. The book is totally entertaining and easy to read, offering tons of a-ha moments and great advice, and you can hear the author’s enthusiasm and passion in her writing, I couldn’t put it down… I loved it.
I feel so honored to help share the journey of this amazing brand, Sseko Designs and feel so lucky that they have thought of me so often throughout the years to help spread awareness of it all… and cheers to Liz for her efforts in helping so many women change their lives, their futures and the lives of their families. She’s a true inspiration and you will for sure be inspired by reading her story. ~ BUY Beginner’s Pluck HERE 🙂